If You’re Disoriented, Are You Also Disoccidented?

To be “disoriented” is to be feel confused or unable to determine where you are. Etymologically, it specifically means that you do not know in which direction the sun will rise—that is, which way is East.

The base word comes from the Latin orientem, which means “the East.” The Latin base word is oriri, meaning “to rise.” So to orient yourself is to know which way the sun will rise, and an orientation helps you point yourself in the right direction.

You may also know that “the Orient” is a historic, Eurocentric name for Asia because it lies to the East of Europe—so it’s literally the place where the sun rises.

The opposite of the Orient is ”The Occident,” or the West, and its origin is therefore also the opposite: It originally comes from the Latin occidere, meaning “to fall down” or “to go down,” as the sun setting.

So if you’re disoriented, and don’t know which way is East, odds are that you are indeed also disoccidented, and don’t know which way is West.

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